Cook Strait Swim, New Zealand

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tsugaru Swim.....dedicated to Sherri Kelley.

My second attempt to swim a solo crossing of Tsugaru Strait in Japan was the most difficult swim of my career. Moments before the start of the swim, my crew of Pat Whitney, Yoko Aoshima and I placed our hands one on top of the other and I said, "Robbie and Johnny I am thinking of you. But today, this swim is dedicated to Sherri Kelley." We gave a rousing cheer for her.  My young neighbor is undergoing chemotherapy for her cancer.  She has inspired everyone with her courage, strength, and determination in fighting this illness.       My swim started at Tappi Point on the western peninsula on the island of Honshu.  I was being monitored and following the rules of the Tsugaru Strait Swimming Association. The Strait looked like a pond compared to the previous day of turbulent conditions.  Weather and predicted currents were favorable for a crossing. I soon discovered that looks can be deceiving...currents were against me. Within the first five minutes, I was stung by a jellyfish....it was painful but not excruciating. By the fifth hour of my swim, I was swimming hard and making progress to midway of the shipping lane. With only five miles to the finish and several hours of daylight remaining, I assumed that I would complete my swim before darkness.... I was wrong! I felt reassured that the Tsugaru Swimming Association president Mr.Haruyuki Ishii had contacted the Coast Guard to obtain permission to swim at night, if needed.  We got permission prior to my swim. I continued to count the number of times I got stung by jellyfish... I kept thinking of what Sherri was going through and a sting paled compared to chemotherapy.  The swift current pushed me off course significantly.  My main observer Isao Makabe kept a very close watch on my swim and I felt safe.  He timed my stroke rate and monitored my feedings. My boat pilot Kenji Kadowaki and co-pilot Youichi Kadowaki did an incredible job by staying at my side and steering me in the right direction.  My crew was trained to look for helpful currents, too,  but none was to be found. Yoko and Pat never took a break. They worked very, very hard by looking for good currents, preparing my feeds, showing signs, counting my strokes, giving encouragement, and making recommendations. During my feedings,  my crew surprised me with several photos of my young grandchildren attached to my water bottle.  It was very special!  As darkness approached, I knew that jellyfish stings would increase....suddenly I was startled by small two-inch fish that tried to bite my fingertips.  It didn't hurt...they didn't have any teeth.  But it was annoying to have about twenty of these little creatures attach themselves to my fingers and I had to flick my wrist to get them off.  The current was now getting a little weaker and I was on course to Hakodate.  I was looking forward to the finish. It seemed endless due to the 112 jellyfish stings. My official time was 19 hours and 36 minutes with a distance of 33 miles. Mr. Ishii confirmed that I set a new record for the oldest person to swim the Tsugaru Strait (age 61).  I owe this record to Sherri because she inspired me to never give up and take one moment at a time.  Sherri, thank you. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SWIM UPDATE:
Pat has done it! She has finished her swim!
33miles with a time of 19hours and 36minutes!
She reports being stung over 100 times by jelly fish and even got bit several times on her fingers by small fish. She now has 1.5 hour ride back to camp.
I am sure once she is rested, she will update the blog and give more details.
WOOOOOHOOOOO!
Way to go MOM:)

I would like to add a very special thank you to Yoko Aoshima and Pat Whitney (her crew of two) that did a fabulous job monitoring Pat during the swim and providing nourishment and encouragement along the way.
And thank you to all of you that joined us on this AWESOME JOURNEY! Pat appreciated all the words of encouragement!

SWIM UPDATE:
17 hours and counting; she swims on and on and on......
"3.7 miles to go....
Pat is swimming 0.5-1.0miles/hour
High humidity.
Air Temp 24C"
-Yoko

Yoko reports that the other swimmer that started yesterday with Mom is STILL SWIMMING TOO!
Let's keep praying and cheering for them both!
Mom would be the oldest woman to complete the swim in the World and the other woman swimmer would be the 1st woman EVER to complete the "Ocean 7 Swim"!
SWIM UPDATE:
8:45PM Japan (7:45a.m. Eastern Standard time)

15.5 hours of swimming..............
 "Less than 5 miles to go...
still no wind, waves, or currents.
Pat is swimming 1.2miles/hr"
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
7:15pm in Japan (6:15a.m. Eastern Time zone)
14 hours of swimming.
"7 Miles to go.....
Pat is swimming 1.5-2.0miles/hour.
Her stroke is keeping strongly.
No wind. No waves. No current.....
We can see many stars in the sky.
GPS N 37.6, E 37.6"
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
"13 hours of swimming. 9.2miles to Hokkaido.
She is swimming 2miles/hour
No current...She is continuously swimming strongly.
I said 'You can finish!'
Pat answered 'I will do!'
'Sarah, you have a super Mother!'
-Yoko

Yoko, "YES. I. Do."
-Sarah:)

SWIM UPDATE:
12 hours of swimming.....
"Still no current. No wind. No waves. Pat swims strongly. We need the current pushing her. 10.8miles to Hakodate....the sun is going to set.
GPS N 34.13, E 36.77"
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
 Swimming 11 hours and traveled over 20 miles in the water so far. Still no current in the water.
"we need current before dark"
 

SWIM UPDATE:
Daylight is running out in Japan.
"We have NO current. She makes her distance by herself with speed of 1.2miles/hr. We need good current to push her." reports Yoko. GPS N 32.8, E 36.1
SWIM UPDATE:
10 hours into swim. Pat is still waiting for a current. They can see Hakodate. Pat is doing great. Hot air temperature of 28c. GPS N 31.06, E 35.02
SWIM UPDATE:
8.5 hours into the swim. Yoko reports Pat is doing great!
Today the Taugaru Strait is not windy and no waves= no current.
Pat is working hard and is putting the distance behind her. Remarkable!!
They are waiting for a current. GPS location N 29.22, E 34.32.
 
SWIM UPDATE:
7.5 hours of swimming. The water is calm and it is hot on the boat.
Pat is swimming with a side current running west to east at a pace of 1.2-1.5miles/hr.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SWIM UPDATE:
At aprox 6 hours into swim Pat has completed 1/2 the channel swim
According to GPS she is now 25.07 N, 31.08E
Pat is doing GREAT.
Over the last 2 hours she has been swimming at a rate of 2miles/hour
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
 At roughly 9:11a.m. Japan time (8:11p.m. Eastern Standard time), with 4 hours of swimming, Pat has made it aprox 8 miles. She is currently swimming in the international ship lane.
There are very stong currents pushing her to the Pacific.
She needs to continue to work really hard and is doing well.
She has jellyfish stings, but says she is doing "fine".
-Yoko


SWIM UPDATE:
At aprox 5 hours of swimming , she is 1/2 way through the shipping lane.
She is doing well and has said to the Captain "Great Job!".
She is full of smiles.
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
07:11a.m. Japan time (6:11pm Eastern Standard time)
2 hours of swimming; 3 miles down!
It is a beautiful day!
The sky is clear blue.
Water condition is CALM.
 Pat is continuously working hard
-Yoko
SWIM UPDATE:
Pat has started her swim at Tappi, Aomori at 05:11 a.m. Japan time

(4:11p.m. Eastern Standard time).
 Water temp 26.5c
Air Temp 23c
Conditions: calm (so far)
Pat's condition: good

It's nail biting time....

It's a go!  My second attempt of swimming Tsugaru Strait will start on Wednesday at 4 p.m.  Eastern standard time in Maine.  Because of the time zone change in Japan, I will start my swim on Thursday at 5 a.m   Japanese time.  I will be starting from the western peninsula called Tappi located on the island of Honshu.  I will swim to the northern island of Hokkaido.  My new friend Anna Carin-Nordin, a champion Swedish swimmer, will start at the same location.  I feel well prepared for my swim. I've been receiving words of encouragement from all over the world.  It was a great honor for me to receive an email from Ireland's Steven Redmond, the first person in history to successfully complete the Ocean's Seven Challenge....he wished me good luck.  I've been deeply touched from all the emails I received from back home......the great State of Maine.  Thank you.  My crew has been a tremendous help.  Yoko has been very busy translating and Pat Whitney has been a wonderful support.  I can't thank them enough.  A special thanks to my husband Jim and children for their support.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mother nature wins this time


Today I attempted to swim Tsugaru Strait from the northern island of Hokkaido to the mainland of Honshu.  After swimming for nearly 4 hours in a circle due to
very strong currents, the official offered a restart.   I accepted.  I will probably swim on Thursday or Friday...depending on weather conditions.  My crew did a fantastic job.  Another swimmer, Anna Carin Nordin from Sweden decided to restart her swim after seven hours of swimming.  Anna is attempting to become the first woman in history to complete the Ocean's Seven Challenge.  Mother nature won this time, but we're hoping she will be kinder.  Both of us got stung by jellyfish about 50 times each.  Hopefully the next start  will be at a different location.  I will post tomorrow night about the next swim attempt.

Monday, September 10, 2012

At 08:38a.m. (7:38 pm Eastern Standard time) Pat's Japan swim attempt was stopped due to strong water currents.
Yoko reports that Pat is feeling fine and they are heading back to camp.
I don't know at this point if Pat will have an opportunity (or be allowed) to re-try her swim attempt as her swim slot is only until 9/14/2012.
I will update the blog once I get more information from either Pat or Yoko.
SWIM UPDATE:
Swim has Started at 5:05 am (Japan time)
Rain.
Water temp 26c
Ocean is calm, good conditions.
EMAIL UPDATE FROM PAT:
It's still raining but the winds have subsided.  My swim will start approximately on Monday at 3p.m Maine (Eastern time zone) and in Japan it will be at 4a.m on Tuesday morning.  I have permission to start on the western peninsula.  I'm having meeting with boat pilot to discuss location of start due to change of wind direction expected later in my swim.  If Yoko Aoshima has cell phone connection, she will send 3 emails to Sarah Charette for posting on the blog.  I feel well rested and ready to face the most difficult swim challenge of my career. My swim will be dedicated to Sherri Kelley; I will swim in her honor.
Keep your fingers crossed for great conditions.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Waiting and waiting!

High winds are predicted for the next few days......so we are waiting for improved conditions.  The Japanese people have been very friendly and welcoming.  I will update in a few days.